Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

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Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby Ombwah » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:24 pm

Hi!

It has been time to get a batch bubbling again for a while, and I had 5 pounds of LME to use, but the season and SWMBO decreed something more like a cyser, so.
I gathered some bits together and whipped up a spiced cyser sort of thing to use them up. I went half and half with honey and the LME, so 5 pounds of each (whole recipe below) and used some Dry Ale yeast I had in the fridge to set it off.

My initial plan was to primary it for about a week, then secondary it until it was clear enough that I felt like bottling. I haven't made a honey brew yet, and I've noticed a few key differences in the course this batch is taking. Could I get a word of advice from the experts on what to expect? I don't think this has gone wrong, just divergent from my previous ale-making experiences.

So here's the Recipe:

5 lbs LME (light, liquid malt extract)
5 lbs Amber Clover Honey
2 oz sweet orange peel (dried)
1/4 cup fresh cranberries (with spices)
1/4 oz grated fresh ginger
1&1/4 gallon apple/cherry juice (pasteurized)
3/4 oz star anise
"some vanilla bean"
I threw a package of Red Star champagne yeast into the boil on the advice of a medieval re-creationist brewer in the hopes that might provide a nutrient base for the primary yeast.
I used maybe 41/2 gallons of water in the boil, the finished recipe filled the 5 gal carboy just right.

pitched with a starter made from Safale-S04 (Dry Ale)

Honey, LME and water were slowly brought to boil, held hot for a bit, then the spices were added and the brew cooled to pitching temp.
Juice was added to the primary first, then the brew, filtered through a catch sieve in the carboy funnel, aerated then pitched the Safale starter and installed a blowoff tube.

Well, the fermentation has been going like a motorboat all week, and though I planned to rack it to secondary (as I might with an ale) in the next couple of days, I'm not sure that's best here.
The airlock is still kicking bubbles out every 6 seconds or so, and while I haven't been checking the gravity yet (planned to when I racked) I'm sure it's still kicking.

I estimated the OG with a formula out of Zymurgy (It guesses LME at 1.034 when 1:1 to a gallon of water, and honey at 1.030) I think this batch started around 1.06~1.070

Which brings me to my questions:

What can I expect the LME to do to the primary time? Is this going to be 20 or more days before the secondary as I've been reading about in other Cyser/Meads here?

Should I be worried about this sitting on the primary on that cake of lees? I'm hoping it won't impart any off flavor. but I also intended to rack it off soon. Is that wise?

It's so active! I'm afraid to crash the ferm with the sampler or a premature racking.

So, what's the consensus? Should I relax and ride it out? how long might this take? It sure smells nice in the brew cabinet.

Thanks in advance!
Last edited by Ombwah on Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby pclemon » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:35 am

Ombwah wrote:I threw a package of Red Star champagne yeast into the boil on the advice of a medieval re-creationist brewer in the hopes that might provide a nutrient base for the primary yeast.


Never heard of someone doing this, but do know that many yeast nutrients contain "dead yeast cells" which contain minerals and such to help the live yeast get up and going. Same concept.

Ombwah wrote:pitched with a starter made from Safale-S04 (Dry Ale)


No starter necessary when using dry yeast. the 11g packets contain enough yeast to ferment a batch in the gravity range you suggest. If you re-pitched a slurry from a previous batch of beer, then no worries.

Ombwah wrote:The airlock is still kicking bubbles out every 6 seconds or so, and while I haven't been checking the gravity yet (planned to when I racked) I'm sure it's still kicking.


IME (which is limited on honey), Honey ferments fairly slowly. Only a gravity reading is going to give you an idea as to when it's really done, or how close it is. I would NOT rack it off the yeast until it's substantially complete fermenting. I've left beers on a yeast cake for 4 weeks with NO noticeable problem. If you rack off too early you run the risk of under-attenuation.
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby Ombwah » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:21 pm

Thanks very much!
After some more reading, I guess this is technically a sort of fruity braggot.

Under attenuation is indeed something I also fear from racking too early, but this is 10 days now in a plastic fermenter, I kinda wish I'd put it in the glass.

I think I will let it set until it clears a bit, and I'm going to start watching the gravity with my sampler now that the bubbles have mellowed to one every 30 seconds or so.
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby pclemon » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:15 am

Ombwah wrote:Under attenuation is indeed something I also fear from racking too early, but this is 10 days now in a plastic fermenter, I kinda wish I'd put it in the glass.


IME Plastic should not be a problem so long as it's actiely fermenting.
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby Ombwah » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:53 pm

*Update!*

After 14 days in the primary, this had settled out at 1.014* - there was still some light ferm going, but bubbles in the tube had slowed to less than one a minute. At 17th day in primary with no change I racked to secondary and popped a vapor lock on the top.

Today is the 21's day since brew, the 4th day in secondary and even the little bubbles have basically fallen off completely. the brew seems to be slowly settling out in almost perfectly flat layers of clarification.

Taste of sample at racking was a little sweet, a little licorice and a little winey - but I'm sure the alcohol/winelike nose will mellow.

(*An attenuation calc I used says this is ~77.53% apparent attenuation, 63.51% real attenuation, and 6.8 ABV at secondary.)
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby Ombwah » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:58 am

This has been in glass secondary for two weeks now, has about an inch of sediment at the bottom and appears to still have some bubbles going on.

Can I expect this to clear up in bulk aging like this? Or should I rack it again sometime soon? What's the consensus?

How clear will this get? It's pretty amber right now, though clearing a bit steadily.

thanks in advance.
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby pclemon » Tue Dec 28, 2010 5:59 am

The only down-side to racking it again is the risk of oxidation. With beer I usually don't worry about racking it, but with Wine I usually rack it off the sediment to try and get as clear a product as possible. If it is still actively fermenting (even slowly) expect there still to be yeast in suspension and therefore not clearing.... once you take a gravity reading and determine it to be "done" then try cooling it down. Crash cooling will usually drop most things to the bottom.
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Re: Cyser/Mead cut with LME? What can I expect?

Postby Ombwah » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:03 pm

Well, I bottled this six or seven days later.

Today I cracked one, and this is pretty decent. A little hot, and the anise is very faint, but there. Both the SWMBO and my cousin dig it. Also, it has cleared up very well, and is now a brazen coppery hue.

Braggot ho!
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